Today the USA celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (1929-1968). As we all know, Dr. King preached nonviolent activism in the global civil rights movement. Ironically, the other two persons honored with national holidays are Christopher Columbus and George Washington, two powerful slaveowners who advocated (and in Washington's case, waged) genocidal violence against people who fought for their civil rights.
Calls for the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day began almost as soon as King was assassinated in 1968 but it wasn't until 1983 that president Ronald Reagan signed it into law, over the objections of vocal opponents including Senator Jesse Helms and then-Arizona Congressman John McCain -- primarily over King's objections to the US's bloody invasion of Vietnam.
Outside of the US, the holiday is observed in Hiroshima, Toronto and probably elsewhere. But let's not get it twisted, his principles of nonviolence, as well as those of Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi before him, were not merely calls to pacifism -- silently accepting the rule and direction of those in power. On the contrary, they were calls to action.
Today, one of the most articulate (if not loudest) voice on behalf of the civil rights deprived of the world's indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognised or occupied territories is UNPO, or, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The idea was conceived by Tibetan activist Tsering Jampa and Uyghur activist Erkin Alptekin, who were dismayed by blood-lusting global media's single-minded focus on violent struggles for independence such as have characterized Palestine's fruitless struggle through 65 years of occupation.
Although nonviolent struggles continue to be comparatively ignored, several former UNPO members who embraced and practiced nonviolent struggle have succeeded in gaining autonomy, including Abkhazia, Armenia, East Timor, Estonia, Georgia, and Latvia. Other former members, like Aceh, Albanians in Macedonia, Bougainville, and Gagauzia have withdrawn their membership after their nonviolent struggles achieved agreeable settlements with the states that govern them.
If you wish to support peaceful struggle, please consider making a donation by clicking here. If you wish to read about civil rights struggles and issues of autonomy for under-recognized people around the world that I've acknowledged on this blog, check out whichever regions interest you: Balochistan, Chechnya, East Turkestan, Little Bangladesh, Ngulu Mapu, Ossetia, Palestine, Papua, Southern Africa's Bushmen, Tatarstan, Unrecognized Caucasia, Unrecognized Eastern Europe, Unrecognized North Asia, and Unrecognized South Asia.
On a final note, no doubt President Obama will invoke King's name and say some nice things about him today. Just remember, candidate Obama promised to spend more of our money on the military than any president in history. President Obama merely kept his word, every year since taking office spending over $680 billion on funding two wars, proliferating nuclear weapons and the military's over $500 billion "base budget." As MacGruber said, "Oh mamma, that's a whole lotta wampum." Meanwhile we spend less than $34 billion annually on foreign economic aid. I have to wonder what the world might look like if those figures were reversed. Don't just pay lip service to the Reverend, but take a moment to actually consider his words. RIP Dr. King and PEACE!